Become More Valuable

A few days ago, I shared how to create a great customer experience.  Today, I want to use those same steps to show you how you can become more valuable – to add value – to your team and others in your company.

LISTEN

When a team member or colleague brings you an issue, problem, concern, question…take time to truly listen to what it is they are saying.  Don’t jump to a conclusion or give them a fast answer.  Listen carefully.

ASK

Ask great questions to get to the core issue.  Avoid asking yes/no questions or “why” questions.  Asking great questions will get you to their core issue the fastest.  It also demonstrates that you are actively listening to them.

FEEL

If the person in front of you is frustrated, angry, tense, etc., take the time to empathize with them.  Don’t merely sympathize (“oh, I’m sorry”).  Don’t make light of their situation (“today sucks to be you!”).  Feel what they are feeling and identify with that.

THINK

Once you have the core issue clarified, think.  What resources do you have that can help resolve your team member’s issue?  What resources do you know about that can help?  Who else can you call on for assistance?  Think.

ACT

Once you’ve listened carefully, asked great questions, empathized with the person, and really thought about the best way to help, then (AND ONLY THEN) act.  Far too often people jump into action too quickly.  Act with intention and purpose.

FOLLOW-UP

Following up a couple of days later says that you care about how the resolution is working or not working for the person you helped.  This can be a great learning opportunity for you.  It will create stronger relationships at work as you demonstrate your willingness and ability to invest in someone else.

Make your work interactions better.  Follow this process to add value to your team and your company.

Remember, when you get better, your company gets better.

cropped-become-better-square.jpg

Flawed People

On my drive into work this morning, I heard the following:

“Flawed people can do great things.”

The speaker went on to share an example of King David from the Bible.  David was an incredible king.  He fought and won many battles.  He strengthened his kingdom.  He had passionate followers. Bible said that he was a “man after God’s own heart.”

But King David was also flawed.  Too often, he took matters into his own hands.  He had a wandering eye that led him to seduce a woman and then later had her husband killed in battle.  David suffered because of his flaws.  But he also did great things in spite of his flaws.

Today, I am grateful for grace that sees my flaws but still allows me to be effective.  I cannot ignore my flaws and shortcomings (there are many).  I must get better.  I must build on my strengths.  I cannot make excuses for my flaws.  But I must work to do great things.  My family is counting on me.  My team is counting on me.

I am not disqualified.  Neither are you.

flawed people

“But Enough About Me”

My boss just shared the following with our Lead Team.  It is worth your time to read this.  I’m not sure where he found this, but read it, let it sink in, and then let’s all do it. 

if you make listening

But Enough About Me…

I sat in on a solid coaching session with a regional manager and two area managers while traveling last week.

Okay, to be honest, I sat near the session and not “in it”.

The hotel I was staying in was under construction and the temporary dining area was not very large. 

I was given the one open table near three guys having dinner and talking shop.

Not having earplugs or a television close enough to focus on, their conversation became the soundtrack of my meal. Thankfully, the most senior guy in the group doled out some pretty good advice.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of their particular business (some type of manufacturing), there was a more general piece of advice he gave that had me smiling and trying to see the reactions from his mid-30-years old dinner mates.

He told them, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I heard way too many complaints about First World problems in front of your teams today.”

As his dinner mates smiled sheepishly, he continued, “You guys are doing well. I know you work hard and believe me, I’m proud of our results. But your teams don’t need to hear about how much your kids’ private schools cost or how frustrated you are with the guys putting in your new pool.”

I will give him credit.

He made that point in a clear, yet non-scolding way.

As they joked around a bit about not wanting to sound like “that guy”, the senior manager put a nice ribbon on the subject.

He told them, “Look, sometimes the difference between the boss that you are inspired by and one that you resent is what he or she talks about most. If you are always talking about yourself, they see you as a ‘me first’ person.”

He continued, “If you are asking questions about their jobs, their families, their goals… they’ll walk through a wall for you because they know you are interested in their success…not just yours.”

I fought off the urge to lean over and high-five that senior manager.

Well, mostly because that would have been really weird.

Whether it is the employees working for you, the peers working with you or the customers you work for, how much of your conversations are centered on them?

Folks who focus their attention on others tend to attract more goodwill and success towards themselves.

Strive to be that person.

-Dave Martin

focus on others

Adding Value – Kindness & Consideration

Leaders seek to add value at every opportunity.  Some tend to think of this as primarily offering advice or come up with a solution.  I want to encourage you to look to add value by doing this:

Demonstrate Kindness & Consideration

We life in a harsh world.  Sometimes that harshness creeps into our team members’/coworkers’ lives when least expected.  Add value to them during these times by showing some kindness.

How do you do that?

  • Listen – not as a counselor, but as someone who cares.
  • Encourage – write a short note to say “thank you” to someone you noticed has been working hard and getting results
  • Praise – don’t underestimate your spoken praise for a team member. This simple action can carry them for many days (weeks?)
  • Share – share a resource that might be of help to someone you know is struggling (I had the privilege of doing just this today!).

What else could you do to add value to someone who truly needs it? Be creative.  Share addition ideas in the comments below.

add value

Become Comfortable Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I am about to finish John C. Maxwell’s new book, No Limits.  If you have not read this book, order it now!  It will increase your capacity to lead and succeed!

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on “Risk Capacity”.

“I knew I needed to develop a process to deal with fear, so I did.  It didn’t cure my fear, but it tamed it enough for me to keep taking risks.  It goes like this:

  • Identification:  Who am I?  I am a person of worth attempting to do something worthwhile.
  • Action:  What will I do?  Take action and do the right thing regardless of feelings.
  • Emotion:  How will I proceed?  I will allow my actions to shape my feelings.

My discovery?  Each time I acted with courage and did what was right rather than giving in to what I felt, my will overcame my fears.  My fears have never completely left me, but they no longer control me.”

No Limits

I am Accountable – are you sure?  by Michael Cahill

All along my employment journey, I have had positions that had varying amounts of responsibility, and I believed I held myself very accountable. If asked in the summer of 2008 (when I became CEO of a publicly traded company), how accountable I held myself, I would have answered that I held myself extremely accountable.

I was wrong.

That is hard to say, and it took me a few years to see the light, and probably another year or so to admit it. What happened?

I was in front of the very same board (I was CEO of the company’s largest subsidiary prior to the summer of 2008). I knew all the details and activities of the company. However, there was now no one between me and the directors. One of the directors sole focus was holding the CEO accountable – period.

At first, I thought it was about blame. Then I thought is was just about picking on me. Then I thought is was personal.

Once again, I was wrong.

This director did not care about blame. It was not personal, and he was not picking on me. He just cared about what I was going to do to correct things going forward and to insure poor results did not reoccur.

He did not care how it happened, or who did it. He did not care if 15 of the 16 key metrics were good. He wanted to know why all sixteen were not good. What was I doing about the one bad metric?

I could not play CYA. I could not say that overall we were good. I could not use any other tactic to get around it. I had to own everything. I was CEO because a great majority of my decisions were good ones. I was CEO because a great majority of my actions were the right ones. I was CEO because I had selected the right strategies. However, as CEO I had to be held accountable for 100% of what is going on. It was the board’s job to hold me to that standard.

A funny thing happened along the way. I became more and more comfortable with this level of accountability. I recognized it was not about blame. It was about always getting better. It was about improvement. It was about be able to face adversity and take on that challenge versus hiding from it. The more accountability I took, the easier it became.

Errors or bad results are just challenges to overcome. Bad things happen – always. It is not about avoidance, but honestly admitting these ‘bad things’ and coming forward with solutions and actions to overcome them.

So how do you respond when bad things happen? Do you blame others? Do you divert attention? Do you CYA? Do you hide, or do you own it, see it as a challenge, and come back with solutions, ideas, and tactics to overcome the issues?

I want to work with people who hold themselves and others accountable. Easier said than done, but it is so worth it!

As an aside, as I was working on becoming more accountable and less defensive, I would sometimes say in a board meeting – “Thank you for pointing that out. I am sure I will appreciate it tomorrow.” I was half kidding, but once I got over my defensive posture, I knew I would be a better person for it.

The cool thing? The more accountable I became, the less fear I had. The less fear I had, the more accountable I was. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

So next time something bad happens to you or to your company, or division, or team, go down the checklist. Did you hide? Did you blame? Did you CYA? Did you divert? Or did you state the issue and lay out how to correct the problem and keep it from happening again?

Who would you rather be around?